Slothful workers a plague to companies

Taurai Changwa
Getting accustomed to a brand new year is never easy, especially when coming out of a very busy festive season.

But as President Mnangagwa said last year, “we have got an economy to recover”, so we cannot afford to be slothful.

Further, taking into account how much we are lagging behind other economies in the region, especially South Africa, we also cannot afford to hit the ground running -we have to hit the ground sprinting.

Adjusting to a new dispensation that requires individuals to invest more effort in their jobs even when they feel that they are inadequately remunerated will never be easy.

There is that extra bit of motivation that is needed.

Some human resource practitioners believe that the hyperinflationary environment that affected the economy in the eight-year period leading to 2008 had a deleterious impact on the work ethic of local employees.

The era of absentee employees, whose offices are only manned by personal effects such as abandoned jackets, is very much with us.

Many companies have their fair share of workers who vanish from work, conveniently giving one excuse after the other.

And there are those who procrastinate, including people who avoid work at all costs, delegating their duties to the wrong people in the process.

Though the effects of such aberrations in the workplace are not readily apparent, they are clearly immense.

An inefficient and ineffective workplace has the potential to erode a company’s topline and bottomline.

No company can ever work optimally in an environment where workers put in a half-hearted shift at work.

Experts suggest that even if one employee isn’t pulling their weight, this can impact on productivity, customer service and untimely sales.

The appraisal system of workers in most companies in Zimbabwe is broken.

Those responsible for supervising workers are equally slothful themselves and even if they fill in inaccurate reports, those above them who are supposed to evaluate the reports are similarly non-committal.

All this leads to a vicious circle of slothfulness.

To remedy all these ills in local companies, there is need for a wholesale review of the work ethic and for companies to adopt an organisational structure that gets the most out of workers.

In the developed world, employees are effectively monitored through supervisors who religiously ensure that the employer goals and targets are indeed achieved.

Part of the scope of works for such supervisors is to establish whether an employee can’t do something, doesn’t have the skill, or if they do not want to do it, or if they simply do not have the will power to do so.

It is only after such an assessment that appropriate action can be recommended.

Work ethic is not an attribute that is peculiar to a particular race or unique group of people, it can be easily imparted on anyone.

Though it is widely reported that the Chinese have a strong work ethic, it is important to note that this was developed over time.

There is countless literature to prove this, especially before 1978 when the Asian country began its reforms.

Local workers were once considered to be one of the most productive in Sub- Saharan Africa, but the hyperinflationary era, which principally pushed the narrative that wealth could be gotten without necessarily being productive, affected the labour industry.

The situation became so abnormal that formal employment ceased to be attractive.

Instead, deal-making became the in thing.

In an economy that has remained largely dysfunctional, restoring normalcy is still proving to be difficult.

Most people, including corporates, are of the opinion that there can be shortcuts to success.

This anomaly needs to be urgently addressed.

Both the public and private sector should begin in earnest to unlearn the culture of using short cuts and foul means to get rich and begin promoting a culture of working hard.

Tied to that, the remuneration system should be ably adjusted to reward the hard workers and disincentivise slothful ones.

Blanket salaries that do not reflect one’s contribution to the company cannot possibly be expected to stimulate production.

Put simply, salaries need to reflect one’s contribution to productivity.

This is the only way workers can be motivated to work hard.

The current status quo is now untenable.

The days of lazy people should come to an end.

Government employees should serve the people.

It is beyond question that we need to develop our economy.

Government alone cannot carry the burden of transforming the economy, it is the collective effort of everyone that will aggregately lead to economic revival.

In an economy where many people are still looking for jobs, it in surprising why companies are still offering comfortable zones to lazy workers.

It won’t be easy, but it has to be done.


Taurai Changwa is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe, Certified Tax Accountant and an Estate Administrator. He has vast experience on tax, accounting, audit and corporate governance issues. He is a director of Umar & Tach Advisory. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted at [email protected] or or WhatsApp on 0772374784.


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